576 F.2d 945 (1st Cir. 1978), 78-1074, Walden, III, Inc. v. State of R. I.

Docket Nº:78-1074.
Citation:576 F.2d 945
Party Name:WALDEN, III, INC., et al., Plaintiffs, Appellants, v. STATE OF RHODE ISLAND et al., Defendants, Appellees.
Case Date:June 05, 1978
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
 
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Page 945

576 F.2d 945 (1st Cir. 1978)

WALDEN, III, INC., et al., Plaintiffs, Appellants,

v.

STATE OF RHODE ISLAND et al., Defendants, Appellees.

No. 78-1074.

United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit

June 5, 1978

Argued May 4, 1978.

George M. Prescott, Lincoln, R. I., with whom Oster, Fay, Graff & Prescott, Lincoln, R. I., was on brief, for plaintiffs, appellants.

Allen P. Rubine, Asst. Atty. Gen., Division of Civil Litigation and Charitable Trusts, Providence, R. I., with whom Julius C. Michaelson, Atty. Gen., Providence, R. I., was on brief, for defendants, appellees State of Rhode Island et al.

Archibald B. Kenyon, Jr., Wakefield, R. I., for defendants, appellees Town of South Kingstown et al.

Before COFFIN, Chief Judge, CAMPBELL and BOWNES, Circuit Judges.

LEVIN H. CAMPBELL, Circuit Judge.

Plaintiffs filed this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on February 15, 1974, seeking damages for injuries alleged to be the outgrowth of events that occurred, at least in large measure, on December 24, 1969. The defendants moved for summary judgment on the ground that the statute of limitations barred the suit, and judgment was granted in favor of all defendants on December 22, 1977. 442 F.Supp. 1168 (D.R.I.1977). Plaintiffs appeal.

The complaint describes a warrantless search and seizure at Walden III, a residential school for children with "antisocial behavioral problems," on December 24, 1969,

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and the arrest of plaintiffs Mark and Lisa Dorfman, the proprietors of the school, for child abuse and, in the case of Mark Dorfman, assault with a dangerous weapon on a Walden III pupil. 1 The child abuse charges ultimately were dismissed, and a jury rendered a not guilty verdict on the assault charge on May 31, 1973. The complaint alleged that because of the raid and arrests the school was forced to shut down and its mortgage was foreclosed. The defendants are alleged to have undertaken these actions maliciously with the intent of forcing plaintiffs to close the school. 2 The nine counts of the complaint charge that these actions constituted violations of plaintiffs' constitutional rights.

In deciding the statute of limitations question, the district court recognized that because § 1983 does not by its own terms contain a limitations period, the most analogous state statute of limitations should apply. See Johnson v. Railway Express Agency, Inc., 421 U.S. 454, 95 S.Ct. 1716, 44 L.Ed.2d 295 (1975). In the case of Rhode Island, the choice was between R.I.Gen.Laws § 9-1-14, which applies a three-year limitation period to actions alleging an injury to the person, 3 and § 9-1-13, which applies a six-year period to all civil actions for which a limitation period is not otherwise especially provided. 4 The court ruled that plaintiffs' claims were most analogous to the personal injury actions governed by the three-year period, and that the action accordingly was time barred.

Plaintiffs dispute the...

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